How to Turn Chores into Active Family Fun
Jan 15, 2015
Sixty minutes a day. That’s how much physical activity kids need every day for health benefits according to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. But with the majority of our days crammed with work, school, homework, lessons, and other necessary activities, finding an hour to be active can be a real challenge for most families. In fact, only 5% of Canadian kids are getting enough physical activity.
Enter the weekend. Oh, those two marvelous, free, fun-filled days…when we can play, relax and recharge—and the demands of our busy lives are just put “on hold.”
Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?
The reality is many parents find the weekends are even more hectic and busy, filled with all sorts of events and chores, making it difficult to find time to be physically active. Do the laundry, mow the lawn, go grocery shopping, take the kids to birthday parties and piano lessons, prepare meals… the list goes on and on.
Many view the weekend as time to “get things done" and these “things” typically aren’t the fun, heart-pumping activities we need to be healthy. In fact, research show kids are actually LESS active on the weekend than they are Monday to Friday.
However, as a busy working parent I know that some things just can’t wait until another day. And as my mother used to say, “The toilet won’t clean itself.” So here are some ways to check chores off your list while sneaking in some physical activity and family fun:
- Turn chores into a game. For example, role-play couriers or delivery drivers to get folded clothes into the right rooms; use a stopwatch and offer a prize for whoever tidies their room the fastest; practice throwing skills by tossing dirty clothes into the laundry basket from a distance.
- Turn up the music and dance as you and your kids tidy the house.
- Rid your house of dust bunnies by turning stray socks into child-friendly dust mitts. Simply put your child's hand into clean but dampened sock and tell them (or show them) what needs to be cleaned (low tables, baseboards…).
- Get little hands dirty in the garden. Kids love to help dig in the soil, plant flowers and pull weeds. And what child doesn’t love watering? In my backyard, I fill up the kiddie pool with water and give my kids their own watering cans. They run from plant to pool and back again until everything is good and soaked.
- Wash the car as a family. Arm your kids with a hose, bucket and sponges and just add water. The scrubbing, bending, and movement all counts.
- When running errands, park the farthest away at the shops (or get there by bike or foot if you can. One of the easiest ways to incorporate activity into your child’s routine is to walk regularly).
- Use the stairs wherever you go. When you’re at the mall or the grocery store, avoid the elevator and escalators and get around on your own steam. Strap a pedometer on your kids and challenge them to take a certain number of steps by the end of the day. I also like to challenge my kids to carry the grocery bags to test their brute strength.
- After dinner, do a "10-Minute Tidy-Up." Set a timer and have family members distribute through the house putting away the day's clutter.
With a little creativity, you’ll be surprised by all the ways you and your family can be physically active while checking off the weekend “to-do” list at the same time. And once the chores are done and the errands are run, head to the park to play until the street lights come on. You deserve it!